The Exact Number of Stars & My Abebà by Ribka Sibhatu

Featuring: Ribka Sibhatu, André Naffis-Sahely

The PTC has just published Aulò! Aulò! Aulò! a collection of poems and fables by Ribka Sibhatu with translations by André Naffis-Sahely as part of our World Poet Series.

Ribka writes in Tigrinya and Amharic, two languages native to Eritrea as well as Italian and French. The poet calls her five languages her stepdaughters. She translates her own work into Italian and Andre, in turn, translates the Italian and English.

The collaboration has been going for a decade since André began translating her work in 2010. At that time Sarah Maguire, founder of the PTC, invited him to lead a series of workshops on Sibhatu’s poetry.

Ribka’s work includes short lyric poems and her more recent longer political works. Alongside her poetry Ribka has worked to collect and record the folkloric canon of the horn of Africa, a body of oral literature that was handed down for generations These stories are known as Aulòs, literally meaning:

Please give me permission, I have something to say in rhyme!

Buy the book here.

So today we will be playing you one poem and one fable so you can get a sense of the breadth of her work, this means it is a long 20 minute podcast. Enjoy.